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Meet Emma Kerin, MSP Account Manager

(Reader, brace yourself 😬!!)

Emma, can you explain your Planet IT journey…?

My journey at Planet IT started in 2009 when I had just come out of college studying IT. Back then my job role was telemarketer, generating leads and writing them down on paper, Yes paper !!

6 months later and unfortunately the job just wasn’t for me, I say it was a mutual decision to leave, but Gav and Sean might think otherwise!

After going into various IT support roles, in 2015 I approached Planet IT as they were starting up their IT support department and I joined to onboard all new clients. Back then there was Mike, Sam B, Nick, Stefan and Rob in our fish bowl. Things were very different in those days, with fewer clients and far fewer staff staff! But it’s great to know I was part of that!

Planet IT were then awarded the contract to replace every device at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Kensington Palace and it was such a honour to be considered for this role.

I have always been passionate about customer experience and making sure clients are listened to and understood. Now, 9 years later I’m a MSP account manager which has allowed me to take all the knowledge and experience I’ve had over the last 9 years and really deliver the best service possible for our clients.

Planet IT Awards

You are excelling in your current role. Why do you think it suits you so well?

As I mentioned, I think it’s the variety of roles I’ve had and the touch points I’ve had with all the MSP clients.

A key part for me is having a partnership with my clients, I thrive on delivering and working together to get the best outcome.

What sort of clients do you like working with?

I like working with all types of clients, having a partnership and not just being their IT company. I like to have conversations and understand what makes them tick and not just talk about IT.

 

What technologies are making the most impact to your clients businesses?

Right now, Azure, Intune and sharepoint are making the biggest impact.

Emma and the Planet team in Dubai

What challenges do you face in your role?

I wouldn’t say there are many challenges, but the industry is constantly changing and sometimes it’s hard to keep up and make sure we are giving the client the right advice.

What is it like to work at Planet IT?

Planet IT is full of opportunities and there are always different paths to take if you show how passionate you are.

When things don’t go to plan we all work together to get through it.

 

You’ve been here quite a while, what is your favourite Planet memory?

Iceland Christmas party, I would never have experienced what I did without Planet IT.

Planet IT Support Team in Iceland

What makes you tick outside work?

Going to the gym, holidays and walking.

I also love having a good time and a drink or two…

 

If you were to give advice to a young person thinking of entering the world of IT – what would it be?

Do it! There are so many different areas and opportunities within IT. You don’t have to be in one role forever.

Meet Maciej Owsiany. What exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Technical Architect

Let’s start with an easy one… what exactly is a Principal Technical Architect?

Well… I’ll do my best to describe that title as we all know it is comprehensive and contains many small bits and pieces.

In a few words, a Technical Architect helps businesses understand how the technology works that they might commit to buying and implementing within their company.

There are a few types of Technical Architect. One is a pre-sale Technical Architect, which is precisely what I do in my role. I often engage in conversations with businesses before the sales process. In the typical jargon, I use simple terminology to speak to executives about existing or new technologies. I often change technical language to something more straightforward for the client to understand so they can more comfortably decide to implement a solution within their organisation.

A big part of my role as Principal Technical Architect is to create IT roadmaps, where we look at the overall existing infrastructure for the business and project changes within a specific timeline to achieve better outcomes, essentially acting as your IT Director or CTO, providing that long-term technical vision for the business.

How does that fit within the Managed IT Support Area of Planet IT?

Within the MSP business, the Technical Architect role is a glue between a client and the infrastructure team. That’s looking after that business on a day-to-day basis. We all try to work together to achieve one goal, and that is, first of all, to make the client’s life easier by implementing technology which works for them first but at the same time makes the infrastructure team happy as they will have to then look after that solution and support the client after it has all been implemented.

A big part of my experience that massively helped me within my role was being a technical liaison. I was a part of the helpdesk and onsite team, assisting clients within the MSP business for over ten years. I saw the major struggles that companies were going through and often had to work under pressure to resolve those problems. I always say that I have been on the other side of the fence and not only seeing technical issues from one side of the monitor 😊.

 

What sort of clients do you like working with?

In our role here at Planet IT, we help over 90 support clients from various sectors, such as pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and consulting. We also manage highly demanding organisations like schools, hospitals, and critical care businesses, where technology has to be delivered on point as those clients are highly dependent on it. Working with companies with a straight mission and vision for their business is much easier as we can focus on longer-term goals rather than short patches. Those kinds of companies often stick to the plan and implement changes that Technical Architects put in the IT Strategies.

 

What technologies do you like working with?

This might sound like a broken tape, and as we hear more about the security solutions, most of us probably think…. oh, not again!

Unfortunately, the world we live in has pushed us to focus even more on the security aspect of every business.

We often work in a hybrid mode, which always makes technical departments very busy, and every aspect of security behind the hybrid working solution requires addressing accordingly.

I am not even sure where to start, as we can talk about it for hours, but mainly these days, we do not work from one secure parameter, such as the office. We do not use only one device to access business data. As everybody knows, and I am sure that most of you agree, we tend to use many devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, to access our data.

From a technical perspective, it is our main goal here at Planet IT, and I am sure many other companies, too, secure that data and the devices from which it is accessible. In the technical department, we regularly speak about new technologies that can help secure the data and make sure that in the event of losing a single device, which, let’s face it, is not really hard these days, mitigating the risk of accessing it by someone who should not is achievable as quick as possible.

Using the right technologies, such as Microsoft Intune, is something that we work on daily here at Planet IT, and I can happily say that it makes me almost very proud that many businesses are deciding to make the right move and shift towards it.

 

What technologies are you looking forward to seeing in the future?

Virtual reality and all the AI-facing technologies that we can hear about are things that everybody is talking about at the moment. Many big companies are introducing solutions that can help us with our daily tasks, whether at work or at home, and some of them we might have seen in futuristic movies a long time ago. We all know for a fact that this is happening. We are testing some of these solutions here in Planet IT that might help businesses internally.

 

What challenges do you face in your role?

As I have mentioned, in participating in the Security Summit conversation regarding bridging gaps between technology professionals and executives, the challenge often is to try to convince the senior management team to invest in IT. I have been on many calls when I heard someone saying my system is not broken, so why must we make those changes?

Our job is to ensure that clients understand the importance and often the urgency of the changes that need to be made. Surprisingly, today, we still see many businesses that have not moved from their onsite server operating system, which is not supported anymore, and that is just one example. That may be because they are using bespoke and legacy applications, and the migration might not be that easy, but as long as there is someone who is willing to start a conversation with us and is open to a change, I call it a success as we can then have a discussion and try to face and resolve the current situation.

 

You were recently named the Planet IT MVP – Tell us about that. How did it feel?

That is a huge privilege, and I have to say that I am very grateful to be chosen by Planet IT team and voted for an MVP award, which I think stands for the most valuable player (I have been watching those basketball playoffs for a long time, and I know what that is 😉).

This all happened while I was climbing Kilimanjaro. I remember that my friend happened to catch the internet signal in the middle of nowhere for just 1 hour during our 7-day trip! I wanted to see what happened in the big world, and when I found out about winning…!! We then lost internet access, so I could not even say how happy I was. I feel like this is a team achievement, and although I was lucky enough to get awarded the MVP title, I cannot thank the entire Planet IT team who stands behind it enough!!!

 

What makes you tick outside work?

I love overall physical activity, whether walking, hiking, or training… I love it all!!! Why…? It is probably because during those, I don’t have to think about anything else, and I don’t need to analyse any solutions 😉.

 

Securing Tomorrow: Navigating Cybersecurity in 2024 (Amidst the Rise of Generative AI)

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

As we plunge deeper into the digital era, the evolution of technology continues to shape the landscape of cybersecurity. 2023 has been a landmark year for the uptake and integration of Artificial Intelligence into our business, lives and technologies. However, now it’s time to look at cybersecurity in 2024

2024 will mark a significant milestone. The widespread adoption of generative AI technologies propelling us into uncharted territories. Not only are we learning about how to use these technologies and leverage them to make our business more effective and our work lives that little bit easier, but at the same time we are trying to understand how this technology should be legislated, managed and secured. While these advancements bring unprecedented opportunities, they also usher in new challenges. Especially with the escalating risks posed by malicious actors utilising AI to launch smarter, more efficient cyber-attacks. In this article, we delve into the future of cybersecurity and explore crucial measures businesses should undertake to fortify their defences against AI-driven threats.

2023 has been a year of seismic change in the IT landscape. Most of this initial change has been driven in part by the wave of generative AI products that have come to the market. Starting with the introduction of ChatGPT from OpenAI and then the race to get GenAI into every business and every consumer as quickly as possible. This is not the only change that has dramatically affected the market but it is the starting point from which most of the other shifts have occurred.

Because of this, when looking at what 2024 looks like, we need to consider these rapid changes. We can’t just look at today’s landscape. We need to consider what is the risks of the following 12 months are going to look like

The Proliferation of Generative AI:

Generative AI technologies, fuelled by machine learning algorithms, have demonstrated remarkable capabilities in various domains, from content creation to problem-solving. However, with great power comes great responsibility (“Ben Parker – Spiderman (just before he dies [SPOLIERS]”), and in the realm of cybersecurity, the advent of generative AI presents a double-edged sword. While businesses and individuals can leverage GenAI to increase their productivity, remove manual tasks or understand complex situations, Cybercriminals are increasingly leveraging these technologies to automate and enhance the sophistication of their attacks.

AI Cybersecurity event

AI-Driven Threats: A New Frontier:

The integration of generative AI in cyber attacks introduces a new level of complexity and efficiency. AI-driven threats can adapt in real-time, learning from defensive measures and continuously evolving to exploit vulnerabilities. From intelligent phishing schemes to adaptive malware, businesses now face a formidable adversary that can circumvent traditional security protocols with unprecedented agility. This enables bad actors to push RaaS (Ransomware as a Service) and enable less skilled individuals to trigger and deploy increasingly complex attacks on businesses with little to no knowledge of what the attack does or how it is written.

So how do we move forward? As a business what should you be doing to protect yourselves, your staff and your business from the wave of GenAI that isn’t hear to help you out? I have collated Five steps that I called the Business Imperatives for Cybersecurity in 2024:

Investing in AI-Powered Defence Systems:

To counter the rising tide of AI-driven threats, businesses must invest in cutting-edge, AI-powered defence systems. These systems should not only detect known patterns but also employ advanced machine learning algorithms to identify anomalous behaviour indicative of potential attacks. Your £10 a year subscription to a nearly free Antivirus or Antimalware platform is no longer enough, the companies who are not innovating in this space and failing behind and they are doing so quickly. In 2024, EDR/XDR – Endpoint Detection and Response or (X)Extended Detection and Response are now a minimum, for nearly all businesses from SME/SMB to Blue Chip a managed SoC (Security Operations Centre) or Managed Detection and Response (MDR) service is a must. The level of protection on your client devices has never been more important especially as the edge of the network dissolves and users and businesses embrace remote working.

Continuous Training and Skill Development

The human element remains crucial in the fight against cyber threats. Regular training and skill development programs are imperative to equip cybersecurity teams with the knowledge and expertise needed to combat evolving AI-driven attacks effectively.

When looking at what we do moving forward we have to start with the human aspect of protection “The Human Firewall” as I like to call it. Training your end users has and always will be the most critical line of defence a business has. Now I have said this before and I will undoubtedly say it again in one of these articles or at a keynote. If you fail to train your end users to not only use the technology in front of them or understand the risks they pose as users to the data and information security of the business you will undoubtedly risk a catastrophic failure. Users are the most risky part of your business, they move, they are forgetful and they tend to be overly sharing even when you have specifically told them not to be. What we will need to do as we step into 2024 is train end users to understand the risks of AI, what it does/doesn’t/can/cannot do with data.

Once they understand this you will need to wrap true security awareness training around this. The training will need to be broad but also deep to ensure that users do not fall into the trap of not knowing the breadth of the risks but also don’t end up receiving such high-level input they never really understand how deep that rabbit hole can go.

microsoft intune

Zero-Trust Security Architecture

Adopting a zero-trust security architecture is paramount in the age of AI-driven threats. Rather than relying solely on perimeter defences, businesses should implement robust identity verification, continuous monitoring, and strict access controls to mitigate the risk of unauthorized access. We need to build systems, services and business with Zero Trust at the core. When my team is asked to work on a solution for a customer or migration to the cloud, this is where we begin the days of trusting the perimeter of the network to defend us are gone. We need robust Zero Trust across every system, platform and service. If you don’t have Zero Trust you have too much trust!

Collaboration and Information Sharing

Cybersecurity is a collective effort, and businesses should actively participate in information sharing and collaborative initiatives. At Planet IT, I make this a core of what we do with regular information-sharing sessions, events and webinars (including this blog!). Building a strong network of industry peers and sharing threat intelligence can enhance the collective ability to thwart sophisticated AI-driven attacks. If you don’t know where to start with this reach out to [email protected] and we will get you connected with like-minded individuals across the UK and EMEA and help you build your network of peers.

Regulatory Compliance and Ethical AI Usage

Beyond technological solutions, fostering a cybersecurity culture within an organisation is paramount. Employees should be educated about the potential risks associated with AI-driven threats and encouraged to adopt best practices, such as vigilant email scrutiny, regular password updates, and reporting suspicious activities promptly. This starts from the first day they join your business and should be a continued journey throughout their time with you. The days of training once worrying later are gone. We must be keeping our staff as up-to-date as we are, bringing the business with you is the hardest part of the battle with AI and Cyber Security in 2024.

As we stand on the precipice of a future dominated by generative AI, the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated. Businesses must proactively adapt to the evolving threat landscape by embracing advanced technologies, fostering a cybersecurity-conscious culture, and collaborating with the broader industry. By doing so, they can not only defend against the rising tide of AI-driven threats in 2024 but also pave the way for a more secure digital future. Just remember, AI is Amazing but if you fail to understand it, properly protect it or secure it then it’s a disaster waiting to happen!

If you want to talk to one of our experts about how we can help you with your security and understanding of AI then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected] or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

AI & Cybersecurity in 2024

 

WormGPT: Phishing-as-a-Service the Rise of AI lead Phishing Attacks

WormGPT

Have you been following my latest series of articles on AI and the moving threats of the AI lead wave? If you have, you will have heard me talk about the use of AI to generate content for cyber-attacks, especially their use to increase the effectiveness of Phishing attacks. But have you heard about WormGPT?

Almost as predicted a new AI-lead Phishing service has launched titled WormGPT. Its name is a homage to the AI service ChatGPT which it claims to mirror. The creators call it an equivalent to the natural language engine’s human-like answers to questions.

How does it work?

The way that WormGPT stands out is very simple. All the security measures and protections used to prevent the generation of malicious code or attacks in ChatGPT are removed. WormGPT actively encourages this behaviour. No wonder, it is developed by known hackers and actively promotes malware and other cybercrime on the page.

cybersecurity

WormGPT is a subscription-based service on the dark web. Like many of these services, it can be used to promote and enhance phishing attacks. It is another case of Phishing-as-a-service and will only lead to more complex and higher-risk cyberattacks hitting the public.

With this on the rise, all we can recommend is that you stay alert. Stay aware and have the right protections in place to prevent phishing attacks. You should have time-of-click protection enabled on all links in your business. If you need more guidance on this, you should reach out to your Planet IT account manager.

How our Cybersecurity experts can help…

Are you struggling to get your head around how AI affects cybersecurity? Then please call 01235 433900 or you can email [email protected]. Or if you would like to speak to me directly you can reach out to me via DM or at [email protected].

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